When we teach someone to read the Scriptures, we’re pleased. We praise and thank God for the grace and the privilege. “For we”—you and I—“are God’s fellow workers” (1 Corinthians 3:9).
When we teach a teacher, however, we magnify our praise, because we see once again the marvels of God. When we teach a teacher, we reach not only an individual, but hundreds and perhaps thousands of students as well. When we teach a seminary professor or a priest, we are also reaching his congregations for many years and perhaps decades to come.
That’s why summer always fills me with exhilarating hope. Summer is the time when teachers traditionally enjoy their big break. But for us it’s been a time to step up the pace of our labors, as more and more teachers choose to spend their break with us, learning to read the Scriptures more deeply and from the heart of the Church—and learning to share their insights and the insights of the great saints and scholars.
These months have been rich. I already reported to you about our summer institute for young scholars. But that was only the beginning.
We went on to host several hundred people—most of them catechists and Bible-study leaders—at our annual institute for Applied Biblical Studies, co-sponsored with Franciscan University. There I was delighted not only to teach, but also to listen to younger colleagues who are already impressive scholars. Many of them were my own students years ago, and now they’re teachers and administrators with tenure, abundant publications, and influence. We were joined by an impressive bishop who is also an accomplished Scripture scholar, the Most Reverend Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, New Jersey.
When I consider the long careers these teachers have ahead of them—and the many students they’ll reach—and the many souls their students will reach—I’m filled with hope for the future. When Catholics read the Bible from the heart of the Church, they’re transformed. They become more Christ-like, able to endure and prevail and triumph amid the most severe tests and trials.
And that was only the beginning of our summer activities. We went from there to attend the annual meeting of the Catholic Biblical Association, where we met with many more young scholars. As I send this column off, we are just wrapping up our preparations for yet another big conference, Fullness of Truth in San Antonio, Texas, where well over a thousand have already registered.
We are reaching the teachers. We are teaching the teachers. And so, with confidence in God’s grace, we’re stretching for the far horizons.
When I look out at those crowded classrooms and auditoriums, I can’t help but think and pray: “their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:4).
You make this possible. How can I thank you enough?